WorldSteel's Ian Christmas on the issues that count most

Jul 01, 2009 | 07:59 AM |

His current steel hero is Francis Mer, former chairman of Arcelor SA, with Tom Usher, former top executive at U.S. Steel Corp., coming in a close second. And after more than a decade heading what's now known as the World Steel Association, Ian Christmas has a large and ever-expanding pool of candidates to choose from.

Traveling around the globe from WorldSteel's headquarters in Brussels, Christmas has met and is on first-name terms with industry executives from Pittsburgh and Charlotte, N.C., to London, Luxembourg, Tokyo and, in more recent years, Beijing, where WorldSteel opened an office in 2006 in a move Christmas describes as "very important" for a variety of reasons.

"Over the past 10 years, Chinese growth has had a dominant impact on our industry," he said. "Now, with the financial downturn, one of the locomotives of the world, which is China, has slowed down. And we have a problem.

"The big issue is China has too much steelmaking capacity for its needs," Christmas said. "But there is an even more fundamental issue, and that's the shift of economic power in the world from the Atlantic Basin to the Pacific Basin. We see it in the growth in China but also the growth in Asia and now India."....

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